Developers are getting cracking with commercial developments in Greater Manchester to meet increasing demand from occupiers, according to four clients active in the region.

Argent, Muse Developments, Bruntwood and Nikal told the Built Environment Networking event on ‘Manchester Major Development Plans 2014’ in Manchester Town Hall that they were each committing to commercial schemes in the Greater Manchester region.

Argent provided an update on its massive £800m, five million sq ft Airport City scheme, while Muse said it was commencing construction on the first office phase of its New Bailey scheme in Salford next month, while also working up plans for later residential phases.

Bruntwood said it was progressing with several office schemes in the Greater Manchester area, as well as a new £100m business school for Manchester University, while Nikal provided an update on its development pipeline.

Colin Sinclair, director of property marketing at Bruntwood, said meeting the shortfall of office supply in Manchester was critical. “We’re very short of stock now in Manchester,” he said.

The four clients also discussed their development plans in more detail –


Argent has two major projects in Manchester. The first, 280,000 sq ft office building One St Peter’s Square in the city centre, reaches practical completion this month. The second, the massive £800m, five million sq ft Airport City scheme, is only just beginning. Airport City is being developed by a joint venture between Manchester Airports Group, Beijing Construction and Engineering Group (BCEG), Carillion, GM Pension Fund and Argent, which acts as development manager.


  • Airport City covers 160 acres and will be developed over 10 to 15 years. It will comprise offices, hotels, advanced manufacturing, logistics and warehouses, potentially residential. Airport City North covers 90 acres and will comprise mainly offices and advance manufacturing, while Airport City South covers 70 acres and will mainly comprise 1.3 million sq ft of logistics. There is a “huge amount of interest” in logistics space, in part thanks to DHL committing to become Airport City’s first occupier, and in part thanks to Argent investing in infrastructure and developing serviced plots. DHL moves into its 40,000 sq ft office and logistics building next month.


Argent is committed to capitalising on the scheme’s links to China via BCEG. The development team has completed a “roadshow” around four Chinese cities to find out what potential Chinese occupiers would be looking for at Airport City. Airport City’s success will be “driven by connectivity”, James Heather, partner at Argent adds. The scheme is on the doorstep of Manchester Airport, the UK’s largest airport outside London. The airport’s two runways give it room to grow to double its capacity from 20 million passengers per annum today to 40 million. The airport’s existing railway station will be bolstered by the arrival of the Manchester metro in 2016 and HS2 beyond that.


Established in 1984, Muse Developments is a developer with 61 staff and a 25 million sq ft development portfolio. Phil Mayall, development director at Muse Developments, presented details about its New Bailey under-development mixed-use scheme in Salford. The scheme is based around Salford Central railway station, which is set to be dramatically boosted by Network Rail’s planned Ordsall Chord viaduct scheme, which once complete in January 2017 will improve links between Greater Manchester’s stations, including Salford Central, creating extra capacity and rail routes into the area. New Bailey is being developed by the English Cities Fund – a joint venture between Muse, the HCA and Legal & General.


  • New Bailey’s first two buildings – a Premier Inn and a multi-storey car park – are already on site and will complete in September and November of this year respectively. The next building, eight-storey 125,000 sq ft office building One New Bailey, will commence on site next month and is expected to complete in September 2016.
  • Muse is working on plans for the next phases of New Bailey, which will be residential and are expected to begin on site next May and to complete in December 2016.


Muse prefers to enter into partnerships and joint ventures on schemes, Mayall said. The developer focuses on “infrastructure-led, multi-phase sites and mixed-use regeneration schemes”, he added.


Bruntwood is a property owner and developer with a portfolio of 110 buildings.


  • Bruntwood is developing a £100m project for Manchester University, including development of new buildings for Manchester Business School, a hotel and redevelopment of a shopping precinct.
  • The developer has won outline planning permission for a 200,000 sq ft business park called Booths Park in Knutsford, outside Booths Hall. The firm is also considering developing residential uses on the site.
  • After acquiring Cheshire’s 1.2 million sq ft Alderley Park office complex in March, Bruntwood has “huge plans” for the site, which will be revealed in due course.
  • Bruntwood is revamping parts of its ‘West Village’ office complex in Manchester, including 127 Portland Street. “We’re working with an existing creative cluster to create more creative space,” Sinclair said.
  • Bruntwood is planning a “facelift” of its York House office block in Manchester, including putting in a new restaurant on the ground floor.


Sinclair stressed office occupiers were seeking increasingly creative solutions from developers. He said interventions like adding a roof garden or free event space to existing stock helped drive lettings. “Clients want their space to represent their brand and to help them recruit people. Offices are starting to look a lot cooler,” he said. “The market is changing. Throw out all those ideas about raised floors and suspended ceilings – be creative in what you do and everything we all do going forward is going to be a lot more fun.”


Property developer Nikal was founded in 2003 and is 15-strong.


  • Nikal has committed to a £65m mixed-use scheme in Alringham. Divided over three phases, the scheme comprises residential, bars, restaurants and leisure uses, wrapped around a retained ice rink.
  • Nikal has secured a pre-let for a planned office building on Chapel Street in Salford.
  • Elsewhere, Nikal has put in a planning application for an 1,000 unit PRS scheme in Birmingham, and is lining up to buy a site for a further 1,000 unit PRS scheme in Leeds. The firm is rolling out developments at its Cathedral Park business park in Wells, Somerset, with two office buildings completed and two under-construction.